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Nature Illustration Class

I absolutely loved teaching the first in person nature illustration class! All of the children did absolutely amazing! I am sharing one specific experience that was especially touching:

"I taught my first nature illustration class today for children and I am almost in tears! I watched this sweet girl blossom before my eyes and believe in herself. It started with the feeling of "I don't get this!" (Blocking in with basic shapes) but over the two hours evolved into "I"m really seeing it now!" 😭 My heart is so full. 19 students throughout the day and proud of them all! 🤎"

Pictured on left: her best work from FOUR days ago!

Pictured on the right: what she created today with quiet, calm, and affirming instruction and an open creative heart!

Also sharing the parent letter from this months lesson!

Hello Parents!

Thank you so much for allowing me to teach your children today! It is my prayer that they will be able to keep growing in curiosity, delight, and wonder of creation and fall in love with paying close attention.

Observing and journaling will slow them down, make them stop, sit down, look, and look again. How often do we take the time to be still, quiet, and attentive? Nature journaling will cultivate a richer experience of being alive. They will carry intentional curiosity and follow their questions down the path of discovery. Writing and drawing in a journal will improve their ability to observe, process, and remember their thoughts and experiences. {source John Muir Laws}

Today’s lesson we flew along with Canada Geese as they migrated for winter. We talked about different migration patterns, internal instincts, altitudes, and bird banding. We then moved into drawing a Canada Goose by first adding a posture line, adding basic shapes, adding angles, and then then adding details to their drawing. I did not put emphasis on “pretty” pictures, I instead encouraged them in focused attention and doing their own best work. While they were drawing I shared with them one of my favorite poems, “Something told the Wild Geese.” We also listened to music by George Frideric Handel.

Please take time with your child and have them narrate their class experience to you. Some great narration questions if they have a hard time narrating by themselves would be: What was the easiest part of class? What was the most difficult part of class? Can you tell me about migration? How did today’s poem make you feel? Can you tell me about today’s poem? What can you tell me about the music today? Which part of your drawing do you think you did the best on? Why do you think art is important?

Over the next weeks I would advise you to encourage your children to make nature notebooking a priority at least 1-2 times per week. It can be as easy as going out to your yard, finding something that interests them, drawing what they find and asking these three questions. “What do you notice? What do you wonder? What does it remind you of?” If your child has a hard time writing I would encourage you to dictate their narration for them.

I would also encourage you to include the poem (see reverse side) that they experienced today in your own homes. Reading it outloud, processing its meaning, enjoying the cadence, and possibly even memorizing it will be a delight and if you look into the science of how poetry affects your brain and thinking skills it is quite fascinating.

I will end my letter with a note of perseverance and appreciation. You are doing a great job prioritizing art instruction and you are cultivating a much richer life experience and education for your child.

Art is not “less than” subjects such as math, spelling, or grammar. It should not be viewed as “extra” or “if we have time.” The typical American education system seems bent on eliminating every last bit of creative perceptual training of the right (creative) side of the brain while overemphasizing the skills best accomplished by the left (logical) side of the brain: memorizing dates, data, theorems, and events with the goal of passing standardized tests. Today we are not only testing and grading our children into the ground, but we are not teaching them how to see and understand the deep meaning of what they learn, or to perceive the connectedness of information about the world. It is indeed time to try something different! Prioritizing right brain instruction (one of which is art) enables our children to acquire and apply understanding to what they have learned. It will help them “see things in context,” “see the whole picture,” “see things in proportion and in perspective,” and observe and apprehend -- in short, to intuit, to understand and bring meaning to the fragmented world of the left (logic) brain. {Source: Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain}

I am doing an admiring slow clap for you friends,

Jessica Duke

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